Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Book Review of the Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

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Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic of his own—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman—and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

Series: Ravenspire (Book 1)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray; Reprint edition (December 20, 2016)
Page Count: 416 pages

I’ve heard of this book and its author for years, but the fact that C.J. Redwine is coming to Realm Makers prompted me to finally read it and it is such a good book!

The Plot: The plot held me throughout. It never seemed sag and kept a forward momentum. It played off many plot points of Snow White but took its own original twist.

The Characters: I love Lorelai. She’s such a refreshing main character. She isn’t bemoaning her insecurities and acting wild and crazy. She’s a way more relatable teen for me personally. She always very analytical of the situation and she has a strong bond with her younger brother. 

Kol is an amazing main character too. His sacrificial nature pulls at my heartstrings and he’s so kind and mature. All of his backstory makes perfect sense for his personality and I love how he stepped up and took responsibility instead of cowering. Also, the fact that he can shift into a dragon is pretty freaking awesome.

Irina is a really great villain. She’s very believable and has a well-fleshed out backstory but she’s still affirmatively a villain. Her obsession with hearts and apples are great references to the original Grimms.

Sasha is my favorite character. She’s Lorelei’s gyrfalcon and I love her voice and bird-like nature so much. She’s just fantastic. 

The other side characters are great too. Gabril, Jyn, Trugg, and Leo are all wonderful. Trugg made me laugh out loud when he reacted to something disturbing. “Oh, now that’s not right.”

Hearing her name, Sasha swooped down from a nearby tree and perched on Lorelai’s shoulder. Stubborn human. Limp. Limp. Limp.I’m trying to change that. Lorelai glared at Gabril.Bribe with treat? Mouse? Rabbit?
The Setting: The magic system of this world is just so cool. Everything from people to animals to land has hearts and magic entails people requesting the power of hearts or bending hearts to their will paired with incantors to create spells. The land is dying because its hearts have been misused by Irina.

The Draconi shifters of Eldr are so cool and unique. They have dual hears, their human and dragon hearts, that are at war with each other and they come in all different colors. 

Epic Things: There’s a part when statues come to life and it’s just so super cool. And having a pet gyrfalcon that you can speak to with your mind is just awesome.

The Theme: This book focuses on grief and sacrifice. What the characters sacrifice for their countries is powerful and beautiful. 

Content Cautions: Now this book is pretty clean. There’s no swearing or sex scenes or stuff like that. There is some underage drinking and it’s mentioned that two characters have an intimidate relationship and there’s one kiss but the biggest concern would be some dark violent things that could be disturbing to more sensitive readers. People die by snake bite, a mother murders her children before they die of starvation and then commits suicide, hearts are ripped from chests, people claw their skin off, people are mind controlled to attack others, and ogres tear people apart.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

Conveying Backstory and Details in Conversation - Unlike in the last book I read this book did a great way of telling backstory naturally. Besides two characters being able to read each other’s minds, they begin talking to each other about the small things like their favorite foods to get to know each other. This gave the reader a natural way to know these little details without feeling forced.

How this can be applied to writing: This reminded me much of the famous scene with Katniss and Peeta when they talk about their favorite colors. When these characters have known each other for weeks or month but not really known them it’s logical that they’d ask each other these questions.

Conclusion: Overall this book was super inspiring to me. It’s a successful book published in the same genre and market as I’m trying to get into by a Christian author who even manages to mention God as a higher power. If she can do it, I can too. Five stars!

About the Author: C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and any movie starring Johnny Depp. She is also the author of the Defiance trilogy. If the novel-writing gig ever falls through, she'll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children.

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